Michael Jantz & the Davenports
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Michael Jantz & the Davenports

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Michael Jantz, styalistically "Somewhere between Paul Simon and Jeff Buckley...inspiring. - John Benson


"(Snapshots of the Universe) feels like an old friend or a comfortable sweatshirt." - Peter Chakerian, Managing Editor


Snapshots of the Universe is Cleveland native Michael Jantz’s second album of well-produced, varied songs. The opener, “Love is But an Ocean” and the upbeat pop-rock, “Better Than You”, display Jantz’s knack for penning memorable melodies and there is plenty of diversity on offer with the laid-back folk of “Sierra”, and his cover of the traditional, “Goodnight, Irene”. The excellent, “You”, and the ska-influenced, “Livin’ On Sunshine”, Jantz demonstrates his promise and potential. - Andrew Ellis, Music Editor


Michael Jantz has certainly come a long way from singing on European street corners. Snapshots of the Universe, his latest album, presents a singer/songwriter who has learned new lessons and carried some of the old ones with him throughout the hard times. Big names: Black Crowes, Oasis, and even Barry Manilow have taken notice of this new form of acoustic rock that Jantz engineers.
“You” is an up-tempo, feel-good track. The guitars bounce along while the tambourine adds just a little bit of oomph to make any listener shimmy his or her shoulders and clap to the beat. “Baby, I need you…like breathing, like breathing”; Jantz has met someone special and through his words, I have too, at least in my head.
A slap in the face from Biblical days, “Mama’s Comin’ Home,” is a Tom Petty-esque chant, a virtual foot stomper combined with eerie lyrics—“Well there’s a fence around me, baby and a fence around my heart, and there’s a fence so tall and deep and dark I might not make it out. But “Mama’s Comin’ Home.” These lines will definitely haunt while the music beguiles. If Jantz continues to write tracks like “Mama’s Comin’ Home,” then I’ll be more than happy to keep comin’ round for another listen.
- Candice Mays


“Snapshots of the Universe” is a pleasing and well-realized album that relies on Michael Jantz’s integrated talents as a songwriter, singer and guitarist. His low tenor voice is a little raw in its appeal as heard on the first track, “Love is but an Ocean,” which recalls Daniel Lanois’ plaintive higher register in the chorus. “You” illustrates Jantz’s abilities as a rhythm guitarist. In this track and others, his expressive rhythm guitars recalls the mid-period Beatles’ use of acoustic and electrics blending in support of strong melodic vocal lines. “Livin’ on Sunshine” sports a reggae-inflected verse that moves to a pleasing vocal harmony with backup vocalist Hannah Porter on the chorus. “Better Than You” employs a Beatlesque overdriven solo guitar line behind a vocal that bears overtones of Paul McCartney. The song has strong hooks and is perhaps the most radio-friendly track of the bunch. Jantz’s stable of guest musicians provide well-executed and well-mixed backing tracks. Overall, this Cleveland native has created a product worth checking out. - Steve Klingaman


Washington based singer/songwriter Michael Jantz’s second album “Snapshots of the Universe” will please fans of Neil Young, Paul McCartney and even Eric Clapton because his voice reminds me a lot of Neil Young mixed with Paul McCartney. The music is bluesy, singer/songwriter rock with folk rock vibes…”Mama’s Comin’ Home” is a bit different compared to the rest with its rootsy country rock. The folk rockish “Sierra” goes in the vein of Van Morrison while “You” could’ve been a lost John Lennon tune. I like the catchy opening track “Love is but an Ocean” with a great pop chorus. This is nothing but a good album for all fans of this genre. - Kaj Roth


Michael Jantz’s folk-rock songs boast some McCartney-esque melodies and changes (“You”, “Better Than You”), along with a light soaring sound that’s sometimes reminiscent of Jeff Buckley, especially in the slow-moving “Turn on the Radio” and the sweetly simple melody of “Always On Time.” Adding stylistic variety to this, Jantz’s second release, is a folksy, blue-eyed-blues strain, like that of John Sebastian or Randy Newman, evident in “Sierra” and Mama’s Comin’ Home.” Jantz’s clear but distinctive tenor voice – buttressed by a creamy falsetto – is a strong point. Another is a knack for precise hooklets, like the wordless chorus of “Love Is But An Ocean” and the slithery Robert Plant echo in the chorus of “You.”
The CD sags a bit in the middle under the weight of some less inspiring material, and Jantz’s lyrics range from appealingly minimalist (“Like breathing/I believe in you”) to inexplicable (“Until the mountains resolve to stand their ground/And the children they’ll just eat anything”). But this is the sort of pop music in which lyrics are secondary anyway – with the possible exception of the ska-influenced political song, “Livin’ On Sunshine.” Overall, this CD is highly enjoyable, with plenty of good songwriting and a distinctive enough sound to be a little different. Recommended.
- Jon Sobel


Michael Jantz plays rock music with an acoustic edge. His new album, ‘Snapshots of the Universe’ is a well produced enjoyable solid listen. It starts off with Love Is But An Ocean which is a solid rock song that has great vocals and melodies with solid lyrics that pulls you in. Always on Time is a nice laid back song that has great melodies, and harmonies with great backing vocals by Hannah Prater. You is upbeat and catchy rock song, and is one of the highlights for me. Turn On The Radio brings a laid-back country fold feel that drifts you away. Sierra is a chilled song with a Latin feel. Tell The Truth is an upbeat feel-good rock song with great lyrics…top stuff all the way! Have We All Gone Crazy is what a good rock song should be…I’ve been playing this one on repeat. The toe-tapping, Mama’s Comin’ Home has that old-time rock ‘n’ roll feel. Again, backing vocals by Hannah Prater work very well with Livin’ On Sunshine, a real rocky, rootsy track. Better Than You grabs you with the first note and is a real favorite of mine. The traditional, Goodnight, Irene really finishes off the album well. Overall, I can see why this guy is making a name for himself. With some high profile gigs and an album like this one, I can see good things happening for him. It’s a solid album from an artist to watch out for. He could be picked up by a big label soon. - Chris Parke


Discography

Michael Jantz 2002
'I Saw Three Ships" (single) 2003
'Sierra' (Wigs For Kids single) 2003
Snapshots Of The Universe 2007
Live At Jim's 2008

Photos

Bio

Live At Jim's

After releasing his second full length album,

“Snapshots of the Universe” in May of 2007,

musician Michael Jantz has already

followed up with a hard hitting six song EP,

“Live at Jim’s”.

Jantz, a Cleveland favorite who moved to the

DC area in 2004, has garnered coverage from

XM Radio and internet radio stations for

“Snapshots”, as well as licensing agreements

with MTV for “The Hills” and “Road Rules”.

Snapshots" has also been nominated for

a 2007 WAMMIE for Rock Recording.

“Live at Jims” is sure to add to the positive buzz

from critics and fans alike.

The drive for “Live at Jim’s” was born out of

rehearsals between Jantz and his band members

in preparation of going on tour to support “Snapshots”.

“I had all these new guys together, with all

these distinct skills and unique talents at my

disposal, and the creative juices just started

flowing,” Jantz said. “These songs were written to

play to strengths of these specific musicians.”

The Davenports are comprised of popular DC

local musicians, Jim Donohue on upright/electric

bass and former Bicycle Thieves drummer

Dan Perriello, rounded out by the impressive

talents of local harmonica player Chris

Nammour in his debut recording.

The material also reflects a shift in influences

on Jantz’s song writing, blending indie rock

sensibilities drawn from modern acts like Black Rebel

Motorcycle Club, Ryan Adams and M. Ward, with

more classic rhythm and blues based rock and

country rock. The sound on the new EP has been

compared to work by The Band, The Black Crowes,

CSNY, and as one fan put it, “Bob Dylan after he plugged in.”

“Live at Jim’s” marks the first production

foray for Jantz. Bassist Jim Donohue also pulled

double duty as engineer for the EP, which was, as

its title suggests, recorded in his basement studio.

“I really wanted to capture the vibe and energy

of the live performance,” Jantz said. “We went

in and recorded these songs as soon as we

\could play them through. Although we went

back and refined and crafted each track, what you’re

hearing are those fresh first takes.“

The band plans on making “Live at Jim’s” a free

digital download, with CD’s and MP3’s available

through online outlets including CD Baby and iTunes.

MICHAEL JANTZ
Snapshots of the Universe

UP FROM THE STREET CORNERS — TWICE

WASHINGTON DC: Singer/songwriter Michael Jantz breaks new ground with the release of his second album, Snapshots of the Universe. Engineered by Tom Schick (Ryan Adams, Rufus Wainwright, Sean Lennon, Yoko Ono) and mastered by Fred Kevorkian (the White Stripes, Ryan Adams, Dave Matthews Band, Iggy Pop), Snapshots features drummer Steve Bowman (the Bittersweets, Counting Crows, Third Eye Blind) and contributions from Bittersweets singer Hannah Prater, producer Jerry Becker, and Scott Barkan of Barky and Hypnotic Clambake.

Jantz earned his skills the hard way, working the open mics in his hometown of Cleveland and wandering through Europe playing on street corners. He built his reputation up song by song until it paid off: Jantz became a top local draw, toured with Paul Simon and Brian Wilson, and was voted “Best Male Singer/Songwriter� in the Cleveland Free Times Reader Poll in 2004. The next week, he left to follow a girlfriend to Washington DC.

"It's kind of like starting from square one," Jantz says. "You have to prove yourself all over again; build relationships with bar owners, critics, the people who come see you perform. I went from being a top draw in my hometown to being a complete unknown.�

But the experience shows. Jantz’ new album, Snapshots of the Universe, reveals an older, wiser, and more polished musician than on his self-titled 2002 debut. Snapshots ranges from rollicking acoustic-based rock to mellow storyteller blues. Jantz has taken the high-energy atmosphere of his new stomping ground, and the shock of being dropped into a bustling, unfamiliar city, and channeled them into his songwriting. “For the past year, I put every single moment of joy, grief, anger, and love into this album,� says Jantz. You can hear it. These are the songs that have won him a large DC following in a short time: Jantz appeared in Entertainment DC' magazine’s ‘Best of Local Music’ in 2005, placed high in On Tap magazine's ‘2006 Texas Roadtrip Competition’, and was named ‘Artist to Watch in 2006’ by radio station Z104.

“Climbing my way up from playing in subways and city parks for pocket change was hard enough the first time,� says Jantz. “Doing it twice has taught me more than I can describe.�

Michael Jantz will be touring in early 2007 to promote the new album.